Businesses are ‘stepping up’ and highlighting the benefits of walking

A photograph of three people walking dressed in business attire
 ‘Free, healthy and a boost to creativity: companies must get staff walking’ the article released in The Guardian last week, has highlighted and reinforced the benefits of walking during the working day. A lot of us are guilty of it, sitting at our desks nearly all day with minimal amounts of movement, only getting up and moving about the office when really necessary.

As stated in the article, Fredrich Nietzsche declared that ‘All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking’. This point of view has been backed up Stanford University, which has shown that a person’s creative output increases by an average of 60% when walking. An increasing number of employers are trying to do more to encourage their staff to be more active including walking commutes. With the popularity of cycle schemes, is it time businesses did more to encourage walking as an activity too?

In the UK it is recommended that adults take on at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week, with fast walking contributing to this target. Just a brisk walk of half an hour a day can help exceed these guidelines, however, a survey in 2008 found that 61% of men and 71% of women didn’t meet this nationally recommended level.  Businesses are now stepping up their encouragement and realising the importance of walking. For example, some companies such as Saga are inspiring their employees to walk a mile by mapping out a route around their grounds. In addition to this Google’s new London office will have a variety of facilities available to boost employees in being more active including a 200m ‘trim trail’.

But why are companies investing so heavily in such strategies? With an increasing amount of research into staff health and well-being, it has been shown that physically active staff take 27% fewer sick days than their lesser active counterparts. Not only that, employees are more likely to have higher concentration levels, have better physical and mental health as well as being more creative. For example, anecdotal evidence suggests that walking meetings can lead to a more honest exchange and can be more productive than the traditional ‘sit around a table’ meetings. It is believed that Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple was a fan of the walking meeting. In addition to this, studies show that keeping active can help prevent and manage more than 20 health conditions, including; cardiovascular disease, strokes, dementia, and obesity. An easy way to incorporate walking into your day could be by going for a lunchtime walk, getting off the bus one stop earlier or if distance allows it, walking the whole way to the office!

In April, the UK Department for Transport released their £1.2 billion funds for the cycling and walking investment strategy. Their overall aim is to make cycling and walking the natural choices for shorter journeys or at least part of a longer journey. With inactivity costing the NSH an estimated £1.06 billion a year in direct costs alone as well as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality with 3.2 million deaths globally, the government are understandably keen to promote the health benefits of being more active including the benefits of walking.

It’s also worth remembering that walking is the least polluting form of transport as well as being free and reliable. If you would like help in creating strategies to promote and market the benefits of physical activity and sustainable travel to your workforce, please just contact us and we will be more than happy to help.

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